Masculinity confuses columnist
I was jogging in Meyer Park last weekend when I came across a sandlot
game of soccer in progress. The players were all guys around their 20s,
all sweating profusely and all playing roughly.
As I watched their aggressive tendencies get worked out through slide
tackles and frequent fistfights, I found myself wondering about
that chimerical and elusive state known as masculinity.
I never really understood the concept of masculinity. Maybe my ignorance
comes from being the only male in the household while growing
up. Maybe it's due to living in a gelded society where aggression is
punishable by law unless it's performed by athletes or against other
countries (a.k.a. "war").
I guess I've just always had trouble grasping the concept. Should males
go around thumping our chests and tearing up grass? Are we
obliged to bully those physically weaker than ourselves? Is it a requirement
that we're always on top during love-play?
Does masculinity involve a set of rules that men have to follow or risk
losing our male membership cards? Do we have to give up all the
perks and privileges associated with being male if we don't follow
these vague guidelines?
If a guy's interest in cars doesn't extend past the gas mileage and
if he doesn't give a crap about the speaker size, is he less masculine?
And what if the only effect action movies have on a guy is to make
him wonder how many starving Somalians could have been fed using
half the budget of such soporific diversions? Is that hypothetical
male so unmasculine as to defy description? Should he have his penis
I'll confess to being utterly in the dark on this topic. Sure, I did
the typically Texan guy-things while growing up: ran around on a field
football pads trying to hurt other teenagers while grown men with beer
guts screamed at us all. Was that masculine? I've never been in
the middle of so many huge, writhing piles of sweaty boys as when I
played football in high school. Was that the quintessence of
Or does masculinity involve things other than violence and toughness?
Is drinking large quantities of beer masculine? I wouldn't think so,
considering I've met plenty of women who could down 'em like champs,
their testicular deficiencies notwithstanding.
Then does it have anything to do with the ability to bed large numbers
of the opposite sex? That sounds reasonable, doesn't it? Or it
would, if it wasn't for the old Freudian theory that equated male-to-female
promiscuity with a desire to sublimate one's latent homoerotic
urges. 'Course, I think we've all learned by now not to trust anything
said by a cokehead. (However, guys, Freud's weakness for Colombian
snow in no way lets you off the hook for the "wanting to shag your
mom" thing, subconscious or not.)
So, if masculinity isn't equated with physical toughness, alcohol tolerance
or sexual promiscuity, then what the hell is it? Beats me, and I'm
beginning to think it ought to be consigned to the trash heap along
with similarly vague and worthless terms like honor, responsibility,
salvation and respect.
'Course, you may think I'm wrong, but I'm the one with a column. Who's
going to read your opinion?
Ah, trash talking. Now that's masculine!